The symphonies of Gustav Mahler (1860 - 1911) constitute an essential element of the orchestral repertory; they are therefore essential for young conductors to understand and for instrumentalists to play. Yet they are impractical in many school situations because they call for large orchestras. One solution to this problem is for the conductor to study the original, full version of the works as Mahler composed them, but to consider performing one of the reduced instrumentations now available. A smaller-scale version provides an opportunity for both the conductor and the instrumentalists to confront the challenges of performing Mahler's music and to explore Mahler's musical language and style in a more manageable setting.
This project focuses on Mahler's Fourth Symphony, which is available in two reduced orchestrations: one by Erwin Stein made in 1921 and another by Klaus Simon from 2007. This paper is part of a larger project that includes a lecture-recital with commentary and a performance of the symphony in the more recent Simon arrangement (documented on video). It presents some background on Mahler's Fourth Symphony and compares the two reduced instrumentations to Mahler's original and to one another. Taken together, the parts of this project demonstrate an approach to learning and performing Mahler's music in a more accessible and practical setting for student conductors.
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